Hysterectomy is usually performed for problems with the uterus itself or problems with the entire female reproductive complex. Some of the conditions treated by hysterectomy include uterine fibroids (myomas), endometriosis (growth of tissue resembling the uterine lining tissue outside of the.
Uterine fibroids, although a benign disease, may cause heavy menstrual flow and discomfort to some of those with the condition. Many alternative treatments are available: pharmaceutical options (the use of NSAIDs or opiates for the pain and hormones to suppress the menstrual cycle); myomectomy (removal of uterine fibroids while leaving the uterus intact); uterine artery embolization, high intensity focused ultrasound or watchful waiting. In mild cases, no treatment is necessary. If the fibroids are inside the lining of the uterus (submucosal), and are smaller than 4& cm, hysteroscopic removal is an option. A submucosal fibroid larger than 4& cm, and fibroids located in other parts of the uterus, can be removed with a laparotomic myomectomy, where a horizontal incision is made above the pubic bone for better access to the uterus.
Hysterectomy was in the past sometimes performed as a prophylactic treatment for those with either a strong family history of reproductive system cancers (especially breast cancer in conjunction with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation) or as part of their recovery from such cancers. With the availability of new medications such as raloxifene, aromatase inhibitors and more recent prophylactic strategies for high risk BRCA mutations this is should be an extremely rare indication for hysterectomy.
Adapted from the Wikipedia article Hysterectomy, under the G. N. U. Free Documentation License. Please also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki